Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dreamworks Interview

After being on the job hunt a certain amount of time and seeing my carefully chosen list of possible employers start to dwindle, I started sending on tens of unsolicited resumes hoping someone would bite. One such company was Dreamworks Animation.

After putting together an impressive resume and cover that fit me as their ideal candidate, I sent it off. Seconds later, I received an automated response "The following addresses had permanent fatal errors". That sounded really bad. Not only were the errors fatal, but they were permanent and would remain so for the rest of time. I sent off another e-mail to the webmaster asking if my application was in fact received. That responded with another automated response claiming the mail server itself was down. I took it as a sign that working at this company was not meant to be. I received a phone call a few days later.

The conversation was typical for a first call--verified my information, my interests, what job they were trying to fill. Even though I applied for a programming position, they wanted to interview me for technical director. Since it was an interview, I accepted.

The Dreamworks interview process was actually quite simple for me. They scheduled a video conference and sent me down to a local FedEx Kinkos. In a large conference room filled only by myself and a TV/camera stand, I sat at the end of the table while I was grilled by Dreamworks employees.

The employees interviewed me in pairs or teams. The first team was "Team Oddball" as they called it, which asked trivia-like questions. Unlike my interviews at Intel, they actually remembered the answers to the trivia questions, which made the quiz a much more pleasant experience. One question, for example, was "If you have a three-gallon and a five-gallon bucket with unlimited water, how do you measure out four gallons?". The other questions ranged in difficulty. Most of them were pretty fun and allowed me to think and explain how I would do it.

The next pair asked more technical questions related to graphics, but it was a pretty simple interview. Subjects ranged from 2D intersections to level-of-detail. Every person that interviewed me was a technical director, which I really appreciated. I used the Q & A time to ask them about a typical day, what they liked, challenges, etc.

I was supposed to have an interview with the director of technical directors, Mark McGuire, who oversees all TDs on all movies, but he wasn't available that day. To make up for it, he called me the next day. He mostly wanted to make sure, as everyone had, that I had a very clear idea of what this position entailed. I always found that a difficult question to answer as I don't think I can ever understand a position unless it's a common profession or I spend a day doing it.

A few days later I received an actual offer from the company. The hiring manager explained compensation, the benefits like provided breakfast and lunch, etc. He worked hard to sell me on it. Even though I asked for more time to complete the hiring process with some other companies I was interviewing with at the time, I ended up accepting the offer. I start on the 5th of January. Although I didn't want to live in California, I'm excited to start at what appears to be a fun and dynamic company. By the way, if you haven't seen Kung Fu Panda, the humor alone sells it. The art direction is just more bang for your buck.


Kevin said...

Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment. Are you going Redwood City or Burbank?

Kevin said...

I mean Glendale instead of Burbank. Oops.

Joshua said...

I'll be working in the Glendale office. My friend works there (and it's cheaper than the Bay area).

manu said...

Congratulations !! How is your journey gone so far with dreamworks ?

Joshua said...

Dreamworks is a great company to work for. They definitely spoil their employees and spend a lot of money getting them trained.

Utkarsh Sinha said...

Hi! I'll joining DreamWorks as an intern/trainee for being a technical director next week! Are you on some IM? gtalk/skype/etc?

Priscilla said...

I just received an offer for the technical director position at Dreamworks Animation.

I recently saw your blogpost saying how you got the job four years ago, I was wondering if you are still doing it and if you enjoyed it and what, in general, did you do? What sort of challenges were you faced with?